I love a good name, title, or descriptor. A few summers ago, I wrote about the much-feared traffic nightmare that was to be caused by one of Southern California’s busiest freeway systems closing down for the weekend. In the months and weeks and days leading up to the big event, all we heard about was “Carmageddon” and how it was going to make our lives a nightmare – and it turned out to be completely overblown. Carmageddon was a bust. But what a great name!
Well, this summer, we have a new anticipatory worry to banter about, although it is definitely more of a global worry, and we’re going to hear about it for a long time to come. It too has been given a killer name: “Godzilla El Nino.” Sounds pretty scary (although they’re throwing around “Rainpocalypse” as well.)
An El Nino is a weather event that happens about every 5 years on average, and is characterized by a enormous prolonged band of warm water in the Pacific Ocean. An El Nino can, depending on the seriousness of the event, cause severe havoc with temperature and precipitation rates around the world, leading to disastrous events such as massive typhoons, major shifts in sea life sustainability, droughts, floods, epidemic diseases, and famines. The last major El Nino was in 1998. That event was said to result in millions of deaths due to floods and famine, killing off more than 15% of the world’s reefs, and ended up having several hundreds of billions of dollars of damage to economies around the world, some which still haven’t recovered. This upcoming El Nino is supposed to make that one look mild.
Specifically, the Godzilla El Nino, which will probably be officially declared in the fall, is supposed to lead to massive amounts of heavy rain and flooding in South America and the Western United States, exceptional typhoon activity in South-East Asia, devastating marine life anomalies in Ecuador and Peru, and severe drought in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The only good news on the disaster horizon appears to be a prediction of fewer and less severe Atlantic hurricanes.
Droughts, floods, famines, and the like do happen all the time; this is a big planet and an often-merciless Mother Nature rules it. But these disasters are especially significant during an El Nino. I’m not much of a weather geek, nor do I believe much of the hype around predicted catastrophes, but Godzilla El Nino has my curiosity piqued for sure. Some say global warming is intensifying the events, and of course, many believe that humans are to blame for effecting dangerous and great change to the landscape of our world as a result.
Whether we are about to endure Mother Nature’s ire, or simply reap the resulting damage that we ourselves have helped inflict upon the world, if you believe the weather experts, we are in for one hell of a time in the next 12-24 months. Either way, if you live in Southern California, you may want to grab some rain boots and an umbrella – maybe even a seat on a big wooden boat. Or, maybe the whole thing won’t happen at all.
Godzilla El Nino coming or not, I offer the following movie quotes on the subject – with a special nod to 2014’s Godzilla:
“It’ll create a tidal wave three miles high, travel at a thousand miles an hour, covering California, and washing up in Denver.” – Billy Bob Thornton in Armageddon
“We call him Gojira.” – Ken Watanabe in Godzilla
“The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” – Ken Watanabe in Godzilla
“I think we are on the verge of a major climate shift!” – Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow